Benefits of Creativity & How to Encourage It

Ever watched a child play and noticed the amazing, and often slightly bizarre, ideas they’ve come up with?


Children are inherently imaginative and creative. I feel like it’s us adults that sometimes need a bit of help with our creativity. In fact research by UC Berkeley has shown that creativity does indeed decrease with age.


So you’re not alone in struggling to come up with that bedtime story on the spot!


Actively encouraging children to be creative has several developmental benefits for young children and you can help them.



 

5 Benefits of Encouraging Creativity in Young Children

1. Helping Manage Emotions

It can be tough for little ones to express exactly how they feel. They’re often experiencing new sensations and feelings they don’t understand yet, let alone are able to explain to you. Giving them an outlet through creative activities helps them express their feelings in different ways and in turn make sense of their own emotions. As children learn to express these emotions safely, their self-confidence also increases.

Role-playing, storytelling, dressing up, sketching, modeling, and painting are all activities that can help with expressing emotions.

2. Accelerating Learning & Development

3. Improving Wellbeing

4. Increasing Focus

5. Developing Communication Skills


 

4 Simple Ways to Encourage Creativity


Using creativity and imagination can just seem like playing. But there’s no ‘just’ about playing when children are young. Creative playtime stimulates your child’s brain in unique ways. And you can help!


1. Show Interest In their Creative Ventures

Believe me, I understand that imaginative play with small children can be very hard to be genuinely interested in. But showing that you think what they’re doing has a value will encourage them to take part in more of these types of activities.


You don’t need to fully immerse yourself in their creative play, but you might show your interest by pinning their latest painting that they worked so hard on to the fridge. Or you might ask some questions about what they're building or their character in their latest game of superheroes.



2. Praise For the Process Not the Outcome


When your child creates their own dance routine, piece of art or lego castle, praise them for their efforts and the work they put in. Talk about what they did and maybe even talk about what they could do next.


The focus should be on their efforts, paying particular attention to those activities where you can see they’ve focused and engaged. This demonstrates that it’s the creative part of their activity that was most important.


Praise them equally for efforts that don’t result in a successful outcome and of course avoid negative comments even when they haven’t put much effort in.


You can read our blog on focusing on process over outcome here.


3. Ask Questions and Encourage Independent Thinking


Asking your child questions encourages their creativity by having them think through and extend their ideas.


Focus on one question at a time and give them time to think about their answer. Children often need some thinking time so give them space to come up with their own answer before you make any suggestions to them.


Your questions may relate to a creative activity they’re already engaged in. For example asking them about what they’re doing “What is this part of your building for?” or encouraging them to the next steps “Where do you think we could add this taller block?


Alternatively you could use questions to start a creative conversation. For example “What do you think it would be like to live under the sea?” If a particular conversation sparks their imagination you could ask them whether they’d like to role play living under the sea or do some under-the-sea art.

Not only do these questions help your child’s development, but they’re a great way for you to get to know the inner workings of their minds!

4. Let Them Have Fun!

Encouraging children’s creativity doesn’t need to be directly tied to a certain practice or skill. So many fun activities foster creativity. For example, just singing and dancing around to a song can develop creativity as well as a child's sense of rhythm, harmony, melody, and timing.


To help your child come up with new and creative ideas, simply let them mess around with different materials or resources and see where their play takes them.


Sometimes the simplest materials like blocks, sand or clay can bring out the most creative ideas.

 

STEM subjects encourage all sorts of creative ideas for children. To try a STEM class for 2-5 year olds download our free Little STEAMers class here.


Take a look at our STEM activities for older children here.



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